Category Archives: fantasy

AMA’s and Other News

AMA POSTS

Kate ForsythSome of you may already be members of the Fairy-Tale Forum, a Facebook page that fellow author Shonna Slayton and I started a few months ago. If you are, you will know that we have frequent AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts from invited guests. We have had talented artists, authors, crafters, bloggers, podcasters, and more visiting our page, and it is always SUCH a blast.

If you’re not a member of our page, please come visit! Check out the past AMA guest Thirteenth Princessposts, along with all the other intriguing and even fascinating things our other members post on a daily basis.

I’m excited to say that I recently booked Diane Zahler for an AMA on June 26th, and we will have author Kate Forsyth visiting sometime in July. You won’t want to miss your opportunity to ask these wonderful authors anything you like about their work, life, or fairy-tales in general! See this past AMA post from when Gail Carson Levin was our guest.

OTHER NEWS

I recently had a historical flash fiction story published in Splickety Magazine, featuring one of my favorite historical figures, Eleanor of Aquitaine. You can purchase the paper or digital version of the magazine here. This issue features some pretty great authors, such as Gillian Bronte Adams and Julie Berry.Splickety June

Short stories have abounded recently, it seems. Other than the above flash fiction story, I have written two other stories as well (titled, at least for now: The Demon in the Hills and The Fox Prince). Throughout the past months I have written down several ideas for other short stories as well, and hope to publish all of them together in a book sometime in the future.

Edits on my middle-grade novel are . . . slow. But still happening when I get a spare half-hour here and there. Once edits are done and the manuscript is sent to my beta readers, I will want to find a good illustrator to come up with a few small images for this story. I just don’t think it would be complete without that!

SUMMER

This summer has been flying by already, writing, working, spending time traveling and seeing friends, enjoying every moment I spend with my 10-year-old son.

How has your summer been treating you? What books are you reading? What plans do you have?

 

 

Are Fairy Tales a Waste of Time?

This is a guest post by Brent King.

As a Christian urban fantasy author I have been confronted, as have many of my writing partners, by those who doubt that fantasy, or fairy stories, have any anchor in the real world. Worse yet, some have argued that they take their reader far out of this world into an imaginary place that has no connection to reality.

Is this true? Are fairy stories a mindless waste of time? Do they lure our minds away from reality into an anchorless world of fantasy?

What Fairy Tales Do

It’s true, when we experience a good fairy tale it allows us to open up a place inside of us where we can actually believe its enchantments. It is thrilling to go adventuring with Kyran and Posy, or on a quest with Frodo, but does it snow-white-933491really have anything to do with our world?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Fairy tales:

  • give us a lens to see the world in a startling new way.
  • help us to see our lives not only as they are, but as they could be (or perhaps should be).
  • touch us in their most signature way by how we experience their endings: that sudden, unexpected joy that washes over us in the miraculous grace of what Tolkien called the “eucatastrophe.”

But How Can This Be?

Fairy stories are only successful to the extent that they reflect our world. Who would be moved by a story to which they could not relate? The only reason why the fairy world attracts us is because it is fashioned after the truth of our world.

Indeed the fairy world is our world, a world of wonder we can experience in the real—right now. There is awe, wonder, and amazement in our world. There is beauty and redemption beyond all our evil and brokenness. The problem is that our eyes are often too compromised, shaken, pacified, unfocused, jaded, or injured to see it.

take-532097Where Fairy Tales Shine

This is where fantasy shines. In a world where the simple virtues of God have become routine and expected, a fairy tale catches us off-guard and we are surprised by the truth. It breaks through what CS Lewis referred to as our “stained-glass and Sunday school associations,” and the result is pure delight. This was JRR Tolkien’s point in his lecture on fairy tales:

“The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.”

Teaching by Delighting

A good story both delights and teaches, and that is the power of a great fairy tale. It teaches by delighting. This anchors the fairy tale deep in the real world, powerfully connecting it to our lives in ways that are essential to society.

Are Fairy Tales A Waste of Time?

Are fairy tales a waste of time? Only if teaching truth is a waste of time. There is realm of awe and wonder in our world, scenes of beauty and redemption, yet many of us would miss them without a good story, indeed, without a grounding fairy tale.

____________

Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian urban fantasy from Lake Oswego, Oregon. He also works as a massage therapist and health consultant. He has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada.
Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014. His debut novel, The Fiercest Fight, was published in November 2015.
Blog      Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads

A Wish Made of Glass: RELEASE DAY!

A FAIRY TALE

A Wish Made of Glass is a story that has been through many changes. When I first began writing it, I wanted nothing more than a simple fairy tale told from an alternate point of view from the original Cinderella version I was loosely basing it upon. That’s what I got with the first draft. But, more than a year later, when I returned to the story, I saw the potential for an even deeper meaning. The changes I wanted to make were so extensive that, instead of revising the original version, I started from scratch, though I kept the main points of the original intact.

Many blissful, agonized, bleary-eyed, contented hours went into this little book, and though I enjoyed nearly every moment with these characters, I can’t say that I’m sad it is finally out of my hands and into yours!

You can find it at these locations now:

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Smashwords

RELEASE EVENTS

So what can you expect around here now that my novella has officially released? Well, here are a few things I’ve got planned.

Fun posts. Quite soon I plan on introducing you to not only the characters from A Wish Made of Glass, but the places, etc. of my story as well. Come back next week to see pictures and hear descriptions of my little fairy tale world.

Blog tour. This will run from August 24 – 30. I’ll be posting a link to it in my sidebar as soon as the final schedule of stops comes in. Keep your eyes open!

Giveaway. Beginning on the week of the blog tour, I’ll be giving away the items pictured below. If you’ve had a chance to read the book already, you’ll understand the meaning of each of them 🙂 One lucky winner will claim all of them at the end of the blog tour!

Giveaway item1

Set of 4 custom-painted fairy tale forest cards

Giveaway item2

Butterfly masquerade mask

AWishMadeofGlassFinal

Paperback copy of A Wish Made of Glass

WANT TO HELP SUPPORT MY LAUNCH?

  • Purchase a copy of my book (of course!). Right now, both the eBook and the paperback are at a special discounted price which will run until around the first week of September. After that it will return to normal price. If you’ve already got a copy, consider purchasing one for a friend who may enjoy it, or even your local library.
  • After you read A Wish Made of Glass, leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
  • Share about this novella with your friends through Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, your blog, or just plain word-of-mouth.

Thanks so much, friends, for the help you’ve already given up to now. You mean so much to me and I’m so excited to share my little book with you. Blessings.

Cinderella Schemes #4: An Interview with Clara Diane Thompson

Time for the fourth Cinderella author interview! This time I’m talking with the beautiful Clara Diane Thompson, the author of The Moon Master’s Ball from the Five Glass Slippers collection. I had the privilege of being an influence reader for Clara’s enchanting story (see my review here), and I truly can’t wait to read more from her.

Clara chats with me today about how she came up with a fresh angle on the original tale, and what she’s working on now!

____________

How difficult was it for you to come up with a fresh plot for such a well-known story? Were there any tricks you used to imagine a new angle on the theme?

It was pretty difficult to come up with something new, something that might make readers think, “Hmm. I wonder how this could possibly be a Cinderella story?” To me, the Cinderella story has always been light, a bit shallow, and completely unrealistic…even though it is a fairy tale. So I immediately started thinking of a way to change the all around mood of The Moon Master's Ballclassic story, and my imagination instantly took to a darker path. My original idea started out completely differently than how it ended up. There was a ball, an eclipse, and an insane prince living in the forest…But something just wasn’t right. There wasn’t a theme to hold the story together.

That was when I pulled out my trusty journal and found an old idea about a prisoner hidden away amongst the clowns and acts of a circus. And thus The Moon Master’s Ball was born!

What original story lines, scenes, characters or props did you feel you just had to retain from the original Cinderella, and use in your own version?

Well, obviously the slippers had to stay, and I wanted them to play a more useful roll in the story, which I think turned out nicely. Then there’s the mice–that’s where darling Scatter came from, and, of course, pumpkins. With pumpkins comes a cool, fall atmosphere that fits so perfectly with the eerie feel I was going for. Apart from there being the classic pumpkin carriage, they are mentioned several times throughout the story.

Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?

Oh, The Moon Master himself was my favorite to write! For some reason his scenes came so easily and naturally, I wasn’t having to drag the sentences and dialogue out of my brain! His character is just the type I love reading about, that could be why I enjoyed writing him so much.

Which character(s) in your retelling was the most difficult to write?Clara Diane Thompson

Tilly Higgins. It’s something about those main characters that get me every. Single. Time. I think it’s because I’m more detached from them, and was constantly wanting to get to the next scene with a more interesting character. Ha! But I can’t be too hard on her…after I struggled writing Tilly, she blossomed and became the timid, sweet maid I love today!

What themes from Cinderella do you think resound well for readers today? What themes or lessons did you personally take away from this fairy tale?

Personally, I think the idea of a poor, kindly girl who is treated horribly by everyone getting the gorgeous dress and the prince makes story lovers happy! Everyone enjoys a sweet hero/heroine who gets all the goodness they deserve.

As for what I took away from the fairy tale, it would have to be how Cinderella didn’t act. In the Disney cartoon, it always drove me crazy how she never stood up for herself! I’d have to say what I take away from the story is it’s never wrong to have a backbone and stand up for yourself…just so long as you’re kind while doing it.

Do you have any plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?

Ooh, goodness, yes! I’m currently working on (as I’m sure many of you are as well!) my entry for the Five Magic Spindles competition. The one thing I’ll say about this story is that it’s unlike anything I’ve attempted before. I’m a bit nervous about it! Also, I’ve got the beginnings of a Puss in Boots story brewing in my mind, which is going to be loads of fun, I hope! And then there’s Rumpelstiltskin, too….

The list is never ending!

Thank you oh, so much for hosting this interview, Ashlee! I am enthralled by the premise of your own retelling, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

I loved visiting with you, Clara!! And I’m pretty thrilled that you’re working on some more retellings – can’t wait to read them! Thanks again!

____________

five glass slippersAfter her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.

FIND CLARA HERE:

Blog     Facebook     Goodreads

COVER REVEAL: A Wish Made of Glass

I am absolutely delighted to present the gorgeous cover for my fairy tale novella which will be releasing this summer. I’m not even going to waste any time introducing it….I’ll let its beauty speak for itself 🙂

Ready?

***

***

***

***

***

***

***

***

AWishMadeofGlassFinal

Deep in a forest glade, the fey folk dance with Isidore, a young human child. Their kinship is the very fabric of her childhood. When her mother dies and her world darkens with sorrow, Isidore finds her belief in the fey folk wavering.

The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

Driven to desperation, Isidore turns to the fey folk once more. She has only one wish to claim from them, one chance to make things right. But she must tread carefully. For wishes, like hearts, are easily broken. And obtaining the one thing she desires could mean destroying the one thing she truly needs.

RELEASING SUMMER 2015

____________

The mysteriously snowy forest…the cape billowing in the wind…Isidore’s brooding expression…the beautiful color scheme. Ok, I love it all, can you tell? It’s just so perfectly what I saw in my imagination as I wrote this story!!

A Wish Made of Glass has had a strange journey from beginning to end. I first wrote it almost two years ago as simply an entertaining fairy tale retelling of Cinderella. But when I decided a few months ago to Indie publish it, and began revisions on it, it began to take a different form, with a much deeper meaning than I had ever planned. The revision process became more of a complete re-write. I can only think God had different plans for this story than I originally did, and I was more than happy to follow His will 🙂

The cover design creation itself was a whirlwind of brainstorming and inspiration between myself and the lovely designer herself (A.E. Stengl). I’ll be interviewing her here on my blog on Friday, so be sure to stop by and listen as she shares some insight into her creative process!

As of now there is no official release date for A Wish Made of Glass, but if all goes as planned it will be available sometime this summer. That’s sooo close!! I’m pretty thrilled.

So what do you think? Do you love my new cover as much as I do?! Do you plan to read it when it releases this summer?

Falcon Heart: A Medieval Fantasy

Old grunge paper.A strange dagger…

Adventure beyond fear…

Slavers seize Kyrin Cieri from the coast of medieval Britain and sail for Araby. With a dagger from her murdered mother’s hand, an exiled warrior from the East, and a peasant girl, Kyrin finds mystery, martial skill, and friendship closer than blood.

The falcon dagger pursues her through tiger-haunted dreams, love, and war in the Araby sands. Kyrin is caught by the caliph’s court intrigue and faces the blade that took her mother. One thing can give her the will to overcome, justice against hate, dagger against sword.

Murder, sacrifice, vengeance…compassion and the art of war.

____________

“Every once in a while you come across an author with a voice so distinctive, you could recognize it anywhere. Azalea Dabill has her own unique, lyrical style that draws you into the story and lets you experience it through all the senses.” -K. McKee (taken from Amazon)

____________

Author - AzaleaAzalea Dabill grew up in the California hills, building forts in the oaks. She remembers the fuzzy-sweet smell of acorns and moss, fields of lupines and poppies, the clear song of crickets. Home-schooled, she read fantasy and adventure to her siblings. Now she enjoys growing things, old bookstores, and hiking the wild.

Facebook     Twitter

Author Blog     Amazon

Cinderella, Edits and Assassins

So what do Cinderella, edits and assassins have in common? It’s not a riddle, I promise 🙂 They’re all the things that have been driving me bonkers lately, that’s what! (Don’t worry – the assassin isn’t after me…)

CINDERELLA

I have been working on several things. First and foremost has been the Cinderella retelling I’ve been chattering on about glass-slipperfor the past several weeks. Yes, I realize I promised a cover reveal quite soon for this story (the cover is finished and absolutely beautiful!!) – and I’m still planning on that. I’ll be putting out a request for anyone wanting to be involved with the reveal through my newsletter, probably within the next week or so. So be on the lookout!

EDITS

At the behest of my agent, I officially hired a professional editor who will be giving my story the finishing polish it needs. This was a first for me, and rather exciting. Can’t wait (i.e. panicked/scared) to see what she’s got to say. I am confident she’ll help me make this story the best it can be.

After the edit is finished, I estimate that it will be approximately 6-8 weeks until I release the novella. That will put the release date somewhere in July. We’ll see. Again, as a first-timer I’m very unsure of an exact date at this point, so I’m making no promises! I’ll keep updating you with my progress, of course 🙂

ASSASSINS

When I get moments between preparing for publication of my Cinderella story, I’ve been working on my novel (the one with daggerdragons and assassins and mysterious identities, among other things). After hearing from my beta readers, I’ve decided this story needs a couple of scene rewrites. A simple thing – that is, if these scenes were simple scenes…which they’re decidedly not. Try climax scene and ending scene. Yikes. Daunting. Lots of prayer will be happening, let’s put it that way.

SUMMERTIME

My son will be out of school in 6 days. Mini-vacations and friend play-dates and lots of tree-climbing and swimming are planned for this summer, too. We’ve already caught a dozen toads and two turtles – talk about starting the summer right! Having my Bug’s sweet little face to look at every day and spending time playing with him will help make the writing and editing less intense and stressful – at least, that’s my hope! Either way, I’m looking forward to summertime.

What does your summer look like?

When Stories Are Truer Than Fact

This is a guest post by Suzannah Rowntree, the author of the freshly released (as in, yesterday!!) Pendragon’s Heir.

____________

As the author of a novel which is rooted in a deep and abiding love of medieval literature, I’ve spent much time over the last few years meditating on what great works of literature can teach us about the people who produced them.

Take The Song of Roland, a medieval French epic of Charlemagne’s retreat across the Pyrenees into France. Of this tale of betrayal, tragedy, and justice, which is almost entirely fictional from beginning to end, Dr George Grant says, “Its true lies tell us much about ourselves, our world, and the shaping of Western Civilization that we might not otherwise know.”

Stories tell us something far more important than the facts about the people in them. Stories tell us far deeper and more resonant truths about the people who tell them.

The Song of Roland, for instance, is obviously fiction. In this chanson de geste, a nobleman of Charlemagne’s court betrays his rearguard to the Saracens as Charlemagne’s army withdraws across the mountains. At Roncesvalles, the legendary Roland with various other paladins of France fight desperately until evening and then fall defending the PendragonsHeirpass. Horrified by his loss, inspired by the sacrifice of his greatest warrior, and obligated by an emergent chivalric code, Charlemagne recrosses the Pyrenees and wins a resounding victory against the Saracens. Finally Ganelon, the traitor who betrayed Roland to the Saracens, is tried and executed, not so much for his betrayal of the kingdom as for his betrayal of the chivalric virtues of Christendom: fidelity to a lord, the bonds of brotherhood between Christian warriors, and the defence of the faith against pagans.

Very little, if any, of this story is historical. But what it gives us is a snapshot of medieval civilisation at the very flowering-point of chivalry. In Dr Grant’s summary, “Roland…was the epitome of the great Christian knight. He was loyal, he was faithful, he was trustworthy to the end, and for Ganelon to betray that virtue with his cunning was to undercut the whole of Christian civilisation.” Like many other stories, The Song of Roland uses its fiction to tell us what lies, most burning, more insistent, most truly in the hearts of its tellers and hearers.

If this is true for a single literary work like The Song of Roland, how much more might it be true for the Matter of Britain—one of the most often-retold tales in Western history?

The body of legends known today as the Arthurian legendarium, or the Matter of Britain, has come down to us in a vast body of iterations and reiterations. Scholars today continue to debate the existence of Arthur, the man at their centre. Did he really exist? Was he Roman, Celtic, or Sarmatian? And what, exactly, did he do? Defeat pagan invaders—win the battle of Mount Badon—preserve civilisation for a time before the Saxon conquest?

knights at round tableAbout the only thing we do know for certain is that the vast majority of the stories about this man were invented by pseudo-historians, minstrels, and romancers. We see each new storyteller putting his own gloss on each of the tales and sending it on to the next storyteller to gain new details, new characters, new adventures. At the same time they pick up new anachronisms: a courtly love tradition that certainly could not have existed in the sixth century when the real Arthur may have lived; a code of chivalry; the latest knightly weapons and fighting tactics.

Apart from perhaps one small grain of truth, the Arthur legends are fiction. Yet, over the years I worked on Pendragon’s Heir, my own retelling of the Matter of Britain, I came to appreciate just how profoundly truthful these tales could be—a truth powerful enough to captivate storytellers and audiences from England and Wales to France and Germany, from the High Middle Ages right down to the present day.

For at the heart of the Arthurian legendarium in its most refined form there is a painful gash that lies like a wound between medieval ideals and medieval reality. In Thomas Malory’s classic English version of the myths, Le Morte D’Arthur, the knights of Arthur are a savage, sinful lot, far removed from the idealised knights-in-shining-armour of popular imagination. Some of the knights—Galahad, Perceval, Bors, and (nearly) Lancelot—truly are men of honour and integrity, but the majority are violent, unchaste men who not only break their oath of allegiance to the Round Table’s brotherhood but also fail to live the life of holiness and humility necessary for them to achieve the Quest of the Grail, the one thing that might establish their realm forever. CS Lewis calls them “the peak which failed to reach heaven”—the warriors who dreamed of something better, who reached out to grasp beautiful and high ideals, but who ultimately failed through their own sinfulness.

It was my aim in Pendragon’s Heir not so much to use the Arthurian legends to construct something new, or to provide a faithful picture of any particular historical time, as it was to probe this painful gash between ideals and reality, to explore in my generation the same issues which the medieval romancers explored in theirs. And as much as us, the medieval romancers had excellent reason to explore this topic: they lived in a world of fierce, nigh-unbeatable warriors who all too often broke their oaths, betrayed their marriage covenants, rebelled against their lords, and preyed on the very people they were sworn to protect.

But that is only half of the truth that lies at the heart of the Arthurian myth. The other half is an equally compelling image of virtue: against oath-breaking, oath-keeping. Against unlawful passions, a tender and Christlike love. Against rebellion, meekness and courtesy. Against oppression and exploitation, self-sacrifice and charity. And these qualities, too, rose to a high and fierce flame in the Middle Ages: not all men knocked, or sought, or asked, in vain, and if there were many defeats in the quest to incarnate the kingdom of heaven on the earth, there were also glorious and awe-inspiring victories.

My hope in Pendragon’s Heir is to introduce you to the world of Arthur, which is the world of medieval Christendom: not to tell you what the medievals did, but to show you what they thought, what they believed, and above anything else what they hoped to leave as a legacy to future generations. My hope is to sketch out for you a map of the medieval faith: their ideals, their hope, their fears.

It is a story of dreams and visions. But to the men who dreamed them, those dreams and visions were more immediate, more solid, more true than anything else in the world.

I hope that through Pendragon’s Heir, they will inspire you too.

 ____________

Suzannah RowntreeWhen Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, trying to beat her previous number-of-books-read-in-a-year record. She blogs the results at www.vintagenovels.com and is the author of both fiction and non-fiction. Pendragon’s Heir is her debut novel.

 

____________

Blanche Pendragon enjoys her undemanding life as the ward of an eccentric nobleman in 1900 England. It’s been PendragonsHeiryears since she wondered what happened to her long lost parents, but then a gift on the night of her eighteenth birthday reveals a heritage more dangerous and awe-inspiring than she ever dreamed of—or wanted. Soon Blanche is flung into a world of wayfaring immortals, daring knights, and deadly combats, with a murderous witch-queen on her trail and the future of a kingdom at stake. As the legendary King Arthur Pendragon and his warriors face enemies without and treachery within, Blanche discovers a secret that could destroy the whole realm of Logres. Even if the kingdom could be saved, is she the one to do it? Or is someone else the Pendragon’s Heir?

 

Gillian Bronte Adams’ New Novella: Out of Darkness Rising

This post is full of some amazing things – so don’t leave until you’ve had a chance to see them all! First of all, I’m proud to announce that the beautiful and talented Gillian Bronte Adams will soon be releasing a novella: Out of Darkness Rising. Just look at that gorgeous cover!!

Now keep scrolling to hear more about the book, to watch the awesome book trailer, and to enter a great giveaway that Gillian is hosting.

OODR Front Cover

Darkness reigns unchallenged.

For the villagers on the accursed Island, life has only one meaning – death.  Bound to the Island by the curse, the villagers suffer beneath the iron claw of the serpent, daily breathing the poison of his breath and dying to appease his insatiable appetite.

When Marya’s parents are slain by the serpent for their belief in a legendary king, she becomes an Outcast.  Struggling to survive and avoid the vengeance of the Tribunal, Marya is torn between legend and the harsh reality of the Island.  Yet when a forgotten promise springs to life, she cannot help wondering if the old stories might in fact be true.  And if they are, will the promise prove stronger than the curse?

Coming March 15, 2015

____________

____________

ENTER YOUR NAME TO WIN AN ARC COPY OF OUT OF DARKNESS RISING

____________

Gillian Bronte AdamsGillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas and the dreamer behind the Songkeeper Chronicles. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist.

To find out more about Gillian Bronte Adams’s books, visit www.OfBattlesDragonsandSwordsofAdamant.blogspot.com.

A Thing or Two About Centaurs

centaurs

  1. The most popular theory of how this mythical creature came about was when the Minoans, a people who lived around 2700-1400 BC, first saw a tribe of nomads. The Minoans were a non-riding culture; the nomads were great horsemen. To the eyes of the Minoans, watching horse and man move so fluidly together, it looked as if they were one creature.
  2. According to Greek myth, the first centaur was the child of Ixion (king of the Lapiths) and Nephele (a nymph cloud disguised to look like Hera). Zeus wished to test Ixion, whom he knew desired his own wife, Hera. Thus he sent the cloud to him in the appearance of Hera. When Ixion succumbed to the temptation, Zeus punished him by making his offspring a strange and hideous half-breed: the centaur.
  3. Kentaurides, or female centaurs, did not appear in the earliest Greek mythology. However, they began to show up in later antiquity, though not often.
  4. Historically, there was much strife between man and centaur. Zeus was known to send centaurs to punish both gods and humans who had offended him.
  5. Though Chiron is one of the best known of all mythical centaurs, his knowledgeable and honorable character was rather in contrast to most stories of centaurs, in which they are rowdy, drunken, and even sometimes evil.
  6. Many say the centaur represents the struggle within each of us between good and evil, god and beast. Others see the centaur quite differently: as a pure symbol of wisdom, foresight and knowledge.
  7. The ancient Thessalian tribes claimed that the horses they bred and raised were descended from the race of centaurs.
  8. The Greek writer Homer refers specifically to a centaur (kentauros) in the Odyssey. However, in other of his centaur1writings, he calls them “pheres” (beasts), which might have meant he was merely referring to a horse and rider (alluding to the savagery of the man riding the horse, or perhaps the horse, or “beast,” itself).
  9. In the first century BC, a man named Lucretius actually went so far as to lay out specific reasons denying the existence of centaurs (which means, of course, that many must have believed in their existence to begin with!). His argument hinged on the different rates of growth between a man and horse. A horse that is three is in the prime of life, whereas a man of only three is … well, not a man, but a baby. Therefore a hybrid man-beast would be impossible.
  10. Indian mythology shows “evidence” of centaurs (or something very similar). Ancient art and sculptures from India show images of horses with the torso of a man where the horse-head should be.
  11. Not many know where the Greek word “kentauros” came from originally. Translated literally, it means “piercing bull-slayer” or “piercing bull-sticker,” which some argue could have been describing something as simple as a group of men mounted on horses, shooting with bows and arrows at a herd of bulls.
  12. At the University of Tennessee there is an exhibit called “Centaur from Volos.” Made by sculptor Bill Willers, the exhibit is a combination of a human skeleton and the skeleton of a Shetland pony. It was originally made with the intention of misleading students, in order to make them more “critically aware.” Yikes.
  13. Two of my favorite centaurs: Roonwit, from Narnia (The Last Battle), and Firenze, from the Harry Potter series. Both of these centaurs are depicted as future-seers, star-gazers, as wise and kind and brave.

I chose to make the centaurs in my book wise and kind as well. Yet I can’t help seeing the possibilities of using centaurs in fiction a different sense, now I’ve researched them a bit more. The fact that some people saw centaurs as creatures that represented the struggle between good and evil, god and man … what ideas that inspires!

What do you think?